A PAIR of newfound friends have stepped in to save Colchester’s Poppy Appeal following a Gazette appeal.

Last month, it was announced the town’s branch of the Royal British Legion was struggling to find a co-ordinator for the fundraiser, which brings up to £80,000 each year for the veterans charity.

READ MORE: Royal British Legion hunt for Colchester Poppy Appeal organiser

However, after an appeal in the Gazette and Essex County Standard, volunteers Linda Russell and Jackie Mason stepped forward.

Angela Tillett, the legion’s community fundraiser for Essex, said: “As a result of the appeal which went in the paper I was inundated with kind requests to take on the Poppy Appeal.

“Unfortunately lots of people’s circumstances were not suitable but Linda and Jackie came to me expressing their interest.

“Myself and James Burgoyne, the previous organiser, showed them the ropes and they decided they are willing to take it on as a partnership.”

The retirees had not met before but instantly hit it off.

Mrs Russell, who lives in Mersea, said: “I put myself forward as I have recently retired from running a law firm in Colchester and I wanted an opportunity to use my skills to help the public. I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

“It is a cause close to my heart as well as my daughter Helena was a serving soldier who did a tour of Afghanistan.”

Mrs Mason added: “It seemed as though it was meant to be. I saw the article in the paper and it peaked my interested as I’ve always supported the Royal British Legion. I thought to myself I could not let this happen.”

The duo will be managing the Poppy Appeal shop in Lion Walk shopping centre.

An army of volunteers from across the borough will also be involved in the fundraising, helping collect cash in exchange for the famous pin badges.

William Jolliffe has been selling poppies in Colchester for nearly 50 years.

Ms Tillett said: “The orders for poppies are already in so Linda and Jackie will be able to hit the ground running.”